About 12 years ago I had the pleasure of a week away in Scotland, staying on the small island of Easdale with friends. A lovely holiday and a great opportunity to get to know a part of Scotland that I hadn’t visited before. One rainy day we headed over to the mainland and the town of Oban where we decided to kill a couple of hours visiting the Oban distillery. Up until that day I’d never really drunk whisky before, but a small glass there, followed by some more from the gift shop had me hooked. A love affair between me and whisky was born.
Now, I should come clean here and say that I tend to drink my single malt, and it is mainly single malt that I drink, the way that most Scots seems to think that whisky has to be drunk – straight, on its own, with no ice. Not a common tipple for a lady it seems, but I enjoy it all the same, regardless what anyone else thinks.
Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to build up quite a whisky collection and I’ve also visited several distilleries, both in Scotland and as far afield as New Zealand. I can’t pretend to be an expert, but I do know what I like and love trying new ones.
When I was invited by Liz from Me and My Shadow to join her at a night of whisky with World Duty Free I jumped at the chance. World Duty Free are currently celebrating their annual Whisky Festival and there was certainly a lot to celebrate that night!
Long and Spicy Road (L) and The New Fashioned (R)
The whole event was geared towards introducing women to the world of whisky and to help with this they’d brought along Alwynne Gwitt, better known as Miss Whisky, who has developed a bespoke cocktail for the event – The New Fashioned. Using her Canadian influences this brings together whisky (specifically The Balvenie Triple Cask 12 year old), dry ginger and maple syrup (yes really) and tasted absolutely delicious. I’ve never really been one for whisky cocktails before, but this completely changed my mind on the matter.
As well as The New Fashioned we were also able to try Long and Spicy Road, Whisky Sours and Manhattans as well trying making The New Fashioned ourself behind the bar. Miss Whisky ran a session of “if you like that, try this” where she helped us find a new whisky that she thought we would like based on the other spirits that we like to drink. Several women seemed to find a new tipple of choice and I personally found it really nice to see so many people starting to think of whisky as something they might now choose to drink.
In addition to being educated in all things whisky, journalist, author and broadcaster Grace Dent also ran a masterclass for the group about public speaking and toast-making. It’s definitely the case that when it comes to people being expected to stand up and make speeches or toasts natural behaviour seems to be to expect men to do this. Yes, I’ve done plenty of public speaking in my time, but when it comes to occasions like wedding speeches or making a toast or speech after a dinner, it is more often than not a man who is asked to take on the role. In these modern times that shouldn’t necessarily be the case any more and Grace was providing us with some great tips as to how women can prepare themselves for taking on this role in future.
I came away from the evening feeling completely enthused about whisky again and itching to try my hand at making some whisky cocktails of my own at home. Over the long bank holiday weekend I’ve also been reacquainting myself with my single malt collection, especially the ones that have been tucked away since before my last pregnancy. It’s ages since I’ve last been through an airport to pick up a bottle from World Duty Free, but seeing as Mr C is off to a wedding later in the summer without me I think that giving him a shopping list for his journey would be acceptable don’t you?
Disclaimer: I was invited along to the World Duty Free Whisky Festival evening and given a goodie bag to go home with. They didn’t need to give me a large number of whisky cocktails to tell you how much I love whisky, but they were certainly appreciated!